2022 Vixens Academy announced

2 months ago

The 2022 Melbourne Vixens Academy has been announced with 20 talented athletes named in the squad. Since 2020 the Vixens have run a program during the off-season to help identify potential players to be selected in the Academy.

The main purpose of the Academy is to develop and extend the pool of athletes within the high-performance pathway and provide exposure to the Melbourne Vixens program. The 20 athletes that have been selected have had the opportunity to train alongside the Vixens and get a glimpse into the elite environment.

Recently appointed as Melbourne Vixens specialist midcourt coach, Susan Meaney has been handed the reigns as head coach for the Vixens Academy, a role she is thoroughly looking forward to given the age range and experience levels of the selected athletes.

“I think the most exciting thing is that we have players with varying levels of experience which is really exciting to work with, and to provide them that opportunity to believe in their abilities.”

“Just the depth of players that we are able to develop. The players all come from different pathways, there’s not a cookie cutter pathway to go through, you are working with players that have the experience and others that are coming through,” Meaney said.

Meaney is also excited to provide the Academy athletes with a chance to be immersed in the Vixens environment.

“The Academy is able to expose the athletes to a Vixens training environment. It introduces them to the culture and the values, and to really replicate a little bit of what happens at the Vixens to prepare them to be ready to step into opportunities that come up.”

Over the past couple of training sessions, the likes of Liz Watson, Kate Moloney and Vixens head coach Simone McKinnis have attended to provide insight into the inner workings and culture of the club, something Meaney has highlighted as imperative in building that connection between the two squads.

“We had a fantastic induction with Simone, Kate and Liz. You could see them [the Academy members] all there watching open-eyed and eager and very connected to the experience.

“It’s important to build a really strong rapport among the group, and with the Vixens as well.”

In 2022 the Vixens Academy will aim to prepare athletes for Victorian Fury team selection with a long-term view of developing future Melbourne Vixens, a pathway demonstrated by the development of Rahni Samason.

A former member of the Academy, Samason set the court alight last year in her Suncorp Super Netball debut and was rewarded for her efforts this year with her first fulltime contract.

“Rahni is a player that went all the way through the pathways. She was a very strong player in the VNL and at ANL. Now we see her excelling in that Vixens line-up,” said Meaney.

Samason is not the only notable name to have progressed through the Vixens Academy, with three of the Vixens’ current training partners - Sharni Lambden, Jordan Cransberg and Maggie Caris - also starting their journey in Academy prior to their elevation.

Of the 20 players that have been selected, the Geelong Cougars are well represented with seven players recognised including defender Brooke Allan and goaler Zanna Woods. A couple of young guns in Charli Nicol, Tara Watson and Sussu Liai have also been rewarded for their consistency throughout the Victorian Netball League season.

“You’ve got a player like the young Tara Watson and you can just see her willingness and eagerness. They’re really pushing hard to be able to maintain that standard which is really exciting to see that there’s the depth at a young age,” said Meaney.

“We do remind them at the end of the day the level of expectation is extremely high with what we do and what we expect of each other out on court, but we also enjoy what we do and each other’s company.”

Familiar name Kelsie Rainbow has also been selected for the Vixens Academy, while Melbourne University Lightning goaler Claudia Mawson has been included in the squad of 20 making for a well-rounded group of athletes.

The Vixens Academy will closely align with the Victorian Fury program, who will select a team to participate in the Australian Netball Championships in Traralgon in August 2022. The Victorian Fury will also be led by a familiar name, in Melbourne Vixens Assistant Coach Di Honey.

The Academy program will be delivered at the newly developed State Netball Centre, with access to the Athlete Performance and Recovery Centre to ensure the Academy members get the complete experience. Additional athletes may be invited into the squad as the program continues.

Brooke Allan

Geelong Cougars

Ashlee Barnett

Southern Saints

Taylah Brown

Boroondara Express

Georgina Cuthbertson

Geelong Cougars

Poppy Douglass

Casey Demons

Bridgette Furphy

Geelong Cougars

Tori Honner

Geelong Cougars

Dee Dee Lambert

Hawks

Awyen (Sussu) Liai

Peninsula Waves

Claudia Mawson

MU Lightning

Georgia Moody

NE Blaze

Charli Nicol

City West Falcons

Ally O’Connor

Geelong Cougars

Kelsie Rainbow

MU Lightning

Ochre Renwick

Boroondara Express

Georgia Vines

Casey Demons

Zara Walters

Geelong Cougars

Tara Watson

NE Blaze

Zanna Woods

Geelong Cougars

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